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Labour news this week: Unions warn cuts endangering public, 21 million subject to forced labour, cuts looming at Canada Post?

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Unions across Canada warn service cutbacks putting public at risk

Public service workers across Canada have been ringing alarm bells all week over threats to the public's safety and well-being that they are seeing as a result of underfunding and cutbacks.

In Ontario, CUPE spoke out about a $67-million gap in the funding needed for children's aid societies to do their work and about the under-resourcing of ambulance services -– which may have led to the death in December of an 87-year-old Toronto woman who'd waited three hours for an ambulance.

Corrections officers at a Quebec detention centre where a riot broke out earlier this week pointed to chronic overcrowding as a factor. In B.C., unions called attention to an alarming backlog in the processing of medical records at hospitals in the Lower Mainland and to devastating impacts of the underfunding of community living services. Ottawa's police union warned that a new call-centre-based plan for traffic accident reporting would endanger public safety.

Meanwhile, workers at Fort McMurray public schools and at the McGill University Health Centre decried proposed cutbacks that they say would harm vulnerable kids and compromise patient care.

ILO puts global count of forced labourers at 21 million

About 21 million people worldwide are enslaved through debt bondage, sex trafficking and other forms of forced labour, and about a quarter of those people are children. That's according to a report from the International Labour Organization, released in advance of a meeting of experts on forced labour that took place this week.

"Those who exact or promote forced labour generate vast illegal profits, with domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment among the sectors most concerned," says the report.

Report questions RCMP handling of workplace harassment complaints

A report released Thursday by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP calls into question that way the RCMP handles complaints of workplace harassment. Based on interviews, public submissions and a review of more than six years' worth of harassment files, the report finds that the force's policy on harrassment is vague, its application has been inconsistent and that documentation was inadequate to conclude whether all complaints have been dealt with properly.

"It takes an incredible amount of courage for people to step up with complaints such as these -- to have them continually diminished, deflected and dismissed is an outrage," one RCMP civilian member told the commission.

Cutbacks looming at Canada Post?

Sweeping cutbacks may be on the way at Canada Post, which has been operating at a loss for six consecutive quarters. The corporation plans to close more postal outlets and is in discussion with the postal workers' union about work consolidation and other options. About a year still remains before Canada Post and the union are to begin bargaining on their next collective agreement.

Sobeys workers on strike after company demands 9-year contract

More than 400 workers at a Sobey's warehouse in Milton, Ontario, went on strike Monday after breaking off contract negotiations with the company, which is the second-largest grocer in Canada. The company is pushing for a contract that would lock workers in for an unprecedented term of 9 years. That offer was rejected by 78 percent of union members.

Other headlines of note

Canadians giving up on the world of work

What the Fraser Institute Report Really Says About Public Sector Compensation

Without Rules - report calls for need to protect workers rights in an era of globalisation

Wages drop as union membership declines

Province refuses to release unsafe employer information

Adding injury to insult: Locked out CUPE worker hit by manager's car

Farm organization tackles child labour

Auditor General settles pay equity dispute with office employees

Air Canada workers may be fired over Facebook comments

Chrysler Canada asking CAW for pension relief

Ontario teacher turmoil: Decision on extracurricular activities in hands of labour board chair

HD Mining Offers Unions a Deal in Open Letter

Walmart Workers Are Back on Strike Over a New Wave of Alleged Threats

Contracts, wages and bargaining under attack in Europe

Greek Factory Under Workers Control

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